National Institute of Informatics

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Coordinates: 35°41′32.86″N 139°45′29.17″E / 35.6924611°N 139.7581028°E / 35.6924611; 139.7581028

National Institute of Informatics inside National Center of Sciences Building in Hitotsubashi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

The National Institute of Informatics (国立情報学研究所 Kokuritsu Jōhōgaku Kenkyūjo?, NII) is a Japanese research institute created in April 2000 for the purpose of advancing the study of informatics. This institute is also devoted to creating a system to facilitate the spread of scientific information to the general public. The NII is the only comprehensive research institute in Japan in informatics. It also oversees and maintains a large, searchable information database on a variety of scientific and non-scientific topics called Webcat.

History of the Institute[edit]

The NII had its inception in a proposition from the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports, and Culture presented to the Science Council in October 1973, entitled "Improved Circulation System for Academic Information." In 1976 the Research Center for Library and Information Science was established at the University of Tokyo, paving the way for the institute that was to become the National Institute of Informatics. In 1983 the Research Center was reorganized and transformed into the Center for Bibliographic Information, but continued to operate under the aegis of the University of Tokyo. This center was then further restructured in 1986 and renamed the National Center for Science Information Systems (NACSIS). This center was the first incarnation of the institute to be independent of the University of Tokyo. The institute developed and grew in accordance with advances in computer and Internet technology, eventually outgrowing the initial vision behind the National Center for Science Information Systems. In April 2000 this center was overhauled and reformed as the National Institute of Informatics. It is currently headed by Masao Sakauchi. The NII is located in the Chiyoda district of Tokyo. It is a principal part of the National Center of Sciences, along with the Hitotsubashi University Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy, and the Center for University Finance.

Research at the Institute[edit]

The institute focuses on scientific research regarding information-gathering techniques and systems for information management in all scholarly disciplines. The NII attempts to balance theoretical and practical research approaches, aiming to create new techniques for searching and organizing extremely high-volume databases using new opportunities presented by advancements in high-speed network capabilities. The NII conducts research in partnership with numerous universities and other research institutions, both public and private. The institute's primary goal is enhancing the knowledge of informatics in Japan, but it also works closely with international and exchange researchers and institutes for the advancement of multiple goals, including the development of international standards in informatics. The NII is a major part of the Graduate University for Advanced Studies, and since 2002 has offered a Ph.D. program in informatics in addition to its research functions.

Webcat[edit]

Webcat and Webcat Plus are advanced search databases offered and maintained as a part of the NII's GeNii (Global Environment for Networked Intellectual Information) division. GeNii was created as means of integrating and unifying the content of several information retrieval and electronic library services overseen by the NII, the primary result of which has been the Webcat search systems. Webcat, and its simultaneously maintained successor, Webcat Plus, are book and journal search systems that supply holdings information for materials held in research institutes and university library collections throughout Japan. Webcat Plus currently has information on over twelve million titles, and both systems can be searched in English and Japanese. GeNii's further plans for the Webcat system include integrating the entire holdings of the National Diet Library into the searchable database. No information is currently available on the scheduled completion date for this project.

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